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How media ownership affects news coverage

 AS Kenya hurtles towards 2022 general elections, one thing we will have our eyes fixed on is how media ownership affects editorial positions of the press.

CNN's Chris Cuomo who was barred from covering his brother Andrew. Andrew resigned as New York governor following women who came out accusing him of sexual harassment. Photo/COURTESY

Admittedly, various politicians in Kenya own and control media operations. The scale of the grip is what matters to establish if credibility will be upheld or bias will be order of the day.

Recently, Mwingi Times came across a CNN anchor struggling to disabuse the notion of bias of himself towards covering his brother who was New York governor (Democrat).

Chris Cuomo said that CNN’s policy on covering stories that evoke conflict of interest was clear and that was why he kept off his brother’s story. Andrew was accused of touching women inappropriately. They have since came out, forcing his resignation. An advice Chris said he told his bro even if he admitted that he was not the official advisor.

Higher good

“My brother, as you know, resigned as the governor of New York and will be stepping down next week. There are a lot of people feeling a lot of hurt and a lot of pain right now. My hope is that ultimately, everyone involved will get to a better place. That some higher good will be served in all this” said the Cuomo Prime Time news anchor.

Media hold soft power position which can be used to influence politics and policy. That’s why we will be keen in monitoring and reporting how KBC covers Government of Kenya news, how Standard Group covers OKA presidential race and how County FM and Athiani FM covers Kitui county gubernatorial and presidential beat reports.

While preparing this story, we encountered some bliss of ignorance where readers judge journalists without knowing what their work entails. Journalism is not science. It is art. It is full of opinions and views.

Journalists set agenda for news. And the agenda setting theory says that they don’t tell audiences what to think about but how to think about it.

To underscore the levers that tilt level playing ground, readers have a right to know who owns media houses and if they have a stake in deciding what to cover and what not to. And how to do it.

A source who spoke on condition of anonymity said that some politicians will use media as a campaign tool. “The independence of journalists in those media houses will be affected”, he says.


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